Calling All Angels—It’s Nearly Time!

Updated: February 24, 2017

Although many thought the day would never come, Angels’ baseball is finally back. Tomorrow afternoon, the Halos square off against the Milwaukee Brewers at 12:10 PST at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

The ball club will officially kick off some real action with quite a revamped roster. Additionally, the team is looking to reestablish its rightful place in the AL West after putting up a dismal 74-88 record in 2016.

With respect to tomorrow in particular, what will be curious to see is the likely catching matchup between Martin Maldonado and Jett Bandy. For those who may have forgotten, the latter player was traded from the Halos in mid-December for Maldonado. With that information out there, the pair (albeit it is Spring Training) may very well play with an extra droplet of energy than is the custom against their former squads.

While the catching clash should be of interest tomorrow afternoon, there are a lot more factors to ruminate on. They do not even just pertain to tomorrow’s contest, but the next set of weeks in general.

One of the more prominent questions about the team revolves around the health of ace Garrett Richards and cleanup hitter Albert Pujols. Concerning Richards, it has already been agreed upon that there will be a pitch count limit this year. Thus, it will be interesting to see how that translates beyond the confines of practice. Pujols’ case is a tad different since he is still recovering to some extent from offseason surgery. However, his participation in activities like BP suggests he could be ready for Opening Day even if he never plays in February or March.

Moreover, the left field situation is critical to be watchful of. Granted Cameron Maybin is probably going to get more playing time, Ben Revere should not be bypassed. Components like their speed will be important for Mike Scioscia to take advantage of in Spring Training so he can determine situations to use those respective weapons when it truly counts. The team needs more balance in this area to take some of the burden off Mike Trout’s shoulders.

While the first base battle is indisputable, there is a dark horse battle at the hot corner that may not be considered as immediately. Yunel Escobar is bound to be the starter in Spring Training, but depending on how Jefry Marte performs off the pine, this may be a harder decision for the manager to make once April approaches.

One more point worth consideration is whether the bullpen will carry a long reliever. Due to the overwhelming number of potential #5 starters on tap, this is yet again going to be another tough choice for the skipper to make. There are only so many roster spots up for grabs, after all. A name like Jesse Chavez sticks out when either role is thought about, yet what about an underdog like Nate Smith?

Even though this only scratches the surface, a lot will be determined in the next few weeks to say the least. That is what this time of year is always all about. Let’s see which Angels answer the call.

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